Driving a large commercial truck is a complicated task. It requires skill, experience, focus, and sharpness. Without the proper rest, a trucker is far more likely to be involved in a serious accident. Unfortunately, in far too many cases, large trucking companies put their profit margins ahead of public safety—pressuring drivers to rush to meet tight delivery deadlines.
Truck driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of accidents. A study called Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Fatigue, Long-Term Health, and Highway Safety found that trucker fatigue is a causal factor in as much as 15 percent of collisions. Here, our Fairfax truck accident lawyers discuss the dangers of fatigued driving, the federal regulations, and your rights if you were injured in a crash.
Fatigued Driving May Be as Dangerous as Intoxicated Driving
Many people underestimate how important proper rest is to safe driving. According to data published by the National Sleep Foundation, being awake for 18 hours straight is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05—which, while just below the legal limit for most drivers, is above the legal limit for commercial vehicle operators in Virginia. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that being awake for 24 straight hours is as dangerous as drunk driving. Fatigue reduces driving performance in several ways, including:
- Reduced reaction time;
- Inability to concentrate on driving;
- Poor decision making;
- Increased errors in calculating speed and distance; and
- Higher risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.
Everyone should get enough rest before they get behind the wheel. That being said, truck driving fatigue is uniquely dangerous. Not only do large trucks take more attention and skill to operate, but, should a fatigued trucker make an error, the consequences can be truly catastrophic.
Federal Regulations Limit Trucker Service Hours, Require Breaks
To help address the problem of fatigued truckers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put regulations in place limiting the amount of time a commercial trucker can spend on the road. Pursuant to federal law and Commonwealth regulations, all truckers operating in Virginia must:
- Drive no more than 11 hours in any given 24-hour period;
- Stick to a 14-hour driving window each day; and
- Work a maximum of 60 hours for a 7-day period or 70 hours for an 8-day period.
Of course, these regulations are not the only duties that truckers have to avoid fatigued driving. A trucker who is too tired to operate a commercial vehicle in a safe manner needs to take a break. Fatigued driving is dangerous driving. Safety comes first.
Truck Accident Claims: Justice, Accountability, and Compensation
Truckers and trucking companies can be held liable for accidents that occur as a result of fatigued driving—whether they were violating service hour regulations or not. Every large truck accident should be comprehensively investigated by an experienced attorney. Your legal advocate can determine what factors led to the collision. Truck driver fatigue may not always be immediately obvious to the victim. Negligent truckers and truck companies must be held accountable and victims deserve full financial compensation for their injuries.
Get Help From Our Fairfax, VA Truck Accident Attorneys Today
At Whitestone Young, PC, our Virginia truck accident lawyers fight aggressively to hold companies responsible and get our clients full financial compensation. If you believe that you were injured in a crash with a fatigued trucker, we can help. Contact us now for a free consultation. From our office in Fairfax, we represent truck accident victims throughout Northern Virginia, including in Chantilly, Manassas, Arlington, Ashburn, Alexandria, Gainesville, and Centreville.